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The therapist uses finger pressure to stimulate points—roughly the same as those used in acupunture—thought to arouse the body’s natural healing powers and allow the free flow of energy (or chi).
(For more: acupressure.com)
A gentle-touch therapy aimed at adjusting the flow to its proper rhythm, practitioners say, addresses chronic neuromuscular and musculoskeletal complaints. (For more: iahe.com)
Working on the idea that bodywide tension is caused by tightness in the connective tissues, therapists use sustained pressure to relieve restrictions in these tissues and restore range of motion. (For more: myofascialrelease.com)
Structural Integration or Rolfing
Two names for work that is focused on manipulating the connective tissues to realighn the body. Generally, the work is organized into 10 sessions, each building on the previous one, to create better balance and improved efficiency. Similar therapies include Hellerwork, KMI, Aston-Patterning, and SOMA Neuromuscular Integration. (For more: theiasi.org, rolf.org)
Also known as Western massage, Swedish is characterized by medium pressure and long, sweeping strokes as well as kneading, tapping, and friction. Research from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami has shown that such massage can effectively treat depression, pain syndromes, diabetes, and immune dysfunction. (For more: miami.edu/touch-research)
Thai Yoga Massage
Therapists use their whole bodies to move a client into postures that stretch the body along energy lines similar to meridians. The practice combines elements of shiatsu, yoga, and acupressure. Benefits include improved flexibility and range of motion, and—becvause the session is treated as a meditation—reduced stress. (For more: thai-massage.org)
Working on the theory that the body learns to be relaxed and natural by experiencing relaxing, natural movements, Trager therapists work to create the sensation of effortless movement. The client experiences this as gentle rocking, jiggling, of kneading motions. Do-it-yourself exercises are called “Mentastics.” (For more: trager.com)